The Tower of Time
Every year on New Year’s Eve, a mysterious tower appears, only to disappear four hours later. Last year, three adventurers entered the tower, never to be seen again. Can you rescue them—and make it back out—before midnight?
Every year on New Year’s Eve, a mysterious tower appears on the hill overlooking the village four hours before midnight. When the New Year’s Bell rings, ushering in the new year, a mist surrounds the tower, and it vanishes as quickly as it came.
It’s rumored that Shadowhorn Kraghammer, a powerful wizard who lived several centuries ago, used to live there. It’s also rumored that deep within the tower, Shadowhorn hid the Sands of Time, a magical hourglass of immense power.
For as long as anyone can remember, the villagers have been too afraid of the tower to enter it. But last year, three adventurers/siblings—Fawn, Heron, and Piper Stormcloud—decided to explore it. They were still in there when the New Year’s Bell rang, and they haven’t been seen since.
With just four hours until the New Year, the tower has again reappeared on the hill.
You’re standing inside the ruined toward, glancing down a dark spiral stairwell that leads into the catacombs below. Roots break through the floor. A giant hole in the roof lets a beam of sun shine through, casting dancing shadows on the walls and floor. The occasional bird flies in or out and lands on one of the trees growing through the crumbling stone floor.
As you take a few steps, the stairs drop out from beneath you, turning into a slide. You tumble into the darkness…
- Where does the tower come from? Where does it go?
- Why are the villagers so afraid of it?
- What rumors have you heard about what’s inside?
- If you’re inside when it disappears, what happens to you?
- What does the Sands of Time hourglass do?
- The Stormcloud Siblings think they’ve only been gone a few hours, and have no idea they’ve been missing for a year. Roleplay this as much or as little as desired.
Creatures & Traps
- Trapdoor. A 15’ deep pit. Rats attack after a short while.
- Fire-Breathing Trap. A row of dragon statues line a passageway.The dragons breathe fire as the players walk by.
- Spiderwebs. Several players become trapped in unseen spiderwebs. While trying to free themselves, a giant spider attacks. If they take too long, spider hatchlings emerge from an egg sac and also attack.
- Quicksand. Upon entering a room filled with sand, any player who fails a roll becomes stuck in quicksand.
- Lightning Crystals. This chamber is natural rock, and filled with crystals in a wide range of colors. They stick out of the floor and walls. In the middle is a gigantic purple crystal. Touching it triggers a lightning trap that zaps anyone in a 10’ range.
- Time Portal. As you step through an entrance, you find yourself in another part of the tunnel (either a place you’ve already been or somewhere completely new). It’s now 1-3 hours in the past or future (roll a D6 and divide by 2, rounded up).
- Roof Collapse. The roof caves in on either side of the party. You can keep them together or split them up.
- Flood Room. Gates slam down on either side of the room. Water begins seeping in from the floor. The room will completely flood if it’s not opened in the next 5 minutes. There could be a hidden off switch somewhere.
- Submerged Tunnel. A section of tunnel is submerged in water. On a successful Wisdom Check, players will notice something slithering under the water. If they enter a third of the way in, a giant snake will attack.
- Lava Bridge. The tunnel abruptly stops, opening up over a river of molten lava. A rickety rope bridge spans across. It will collapse with only half the party across, or if too many people are on it at once.
- The Cliff. The only way forward is up a 15’ sheer brick wall. At the top, you can see an opening and torch light. A rope ladder hangs a few inches over the edge, far out of reach.
- The Gate. A metal gate blocks the way, and can’t be lifted by hand. A metal chain that can be used to pull it open runs from the ceiling to a peg on the wall about 10’ away from the gate. Letting go of the chain causes the gate to slam shut. How can everyone get through?
- The Stormcloud Siblings. Deep within the tower is a dungeon. The players find the Stormcloud siblings held in a cell. The key can either be on a wall in the room, or in another part of the dungeon the players already past (you can mention the key in passing while describing the room). Looking at your watch, you realize you have just 42 minutes until the clock strikes midnight.
- Attack of the Sorcerer. As soon as the siblings are freed, Sorcerer Kraghammer emerges from the shadows and attacks. Thought long dead, he reveals himself to be a “time sorcerer” who can bend and suspend time. He’s only 72 years old, despite having lived centuries ago.
- Tunnel Creatures. Bats, rats, centipedes, ogres, trolls, and so on.
Game Master Tips
- Shadowhorn Kraghammer should be scaled up or down in difficulty and strength as needed based on your party’s skill.
- For added fun, you can add a tunnel creature (perhaps a friendly but misunderstood cave dwarf or gnome) NPC that the party meets in their travels. They can aid the party, give them any needed gear, and heal them if necessary.